Late last week, the Arizona State Senate unanimously adopted House Bill 2549, which if signed by Governor Jan Brewer, would update the state's telephone harassment law to apply to other forms of communication, including the series of tubes that bring you Indecision.
See if you can use your experience of having visited the comments section of any blog, on any site, at any time in the history of the Internet to spot potential problems in the legislation…
It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use
a telephoneANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.
UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh points out that, "under the statute, posting a comment to a newspaper article — or a blog — saying that the article or post author is 'fucking out of line' would be a crime: It's said with intent to offend, it uses an electronic or digital device, and it uses what likely will be seen as profane language."
But I see a silver lining in this blatantly unconstitutional attempt to ban trolling. Though Arizona is doing its best to criminalize birth control and immigration, among other facets of the modern world, it still hasn't banned electricity. In fact, Arizona legislators use "digital device[s]" to draft legislation that is often plainly intended to annoy or offend anyone with a conscience.
When Arizona legislators outlaw trolling, the only outlaws will be Arizona legislators.
Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Tags: Arizona, Constitution, Crime, Internet, Jan Brewer, State Legislature